The Pittsburgh Pirates have done it again. Less than a week after acquiring outfielder Marlon Byrd and catcher John Buck from the New York Mets, the Pirates have acquired left-handed hitting first baseman Justin Morneau from the Minnesota Twins. While they overpaid a bit to get Byrd and Buck by giving up two top-20 prospects in their system, Dilson Herrera and Vic Black, the Pirates got Morneau for outfielder Alex Presley. It was a steal for the Pirates.
Presley had no place on the Pirates anymore. After being sent to Triple-A for what seemed like the one-hundredth time in 2013, he reportedly had a mental explosion out of anger. Now the Pirates are turning a disgruntled fifth outfielder into an established first baseman, a former MVP with postseason experience to help them in this playoff push.
Morneau isn’t having a typical Morneau season, but he is also getting older. In 2013, Morneau has a .259/.315/.426 slash line in 543 plate appearances. On the surface, that isn’t all that impressive; but the Pirates will probably use him as a platoon player and he will only hit against right-handed pitchers with Gaby Sanchez hitting against lefties. Against right-handed pitching this season, Morneau has a .281/.343/.488 line in 382 plate appearances.
Obviously, when a move is made to bring someone in, it sends ripple effects down the roster. Garrett Jones, the Pirates’ left-handed hitting first baseman before acquiring Morneau, will be a bench player now unless the Pirates decide to put him in right field. Unfortunately for Jones, the Pirates acquired Byrd, a right fielder, already, so getting playing time in the outfield is unlikely for Jones.
Pittsburgh, if you don’t believe in your Buccos yet, get on board. This front office is trying to win and it is trying to win now. The best part about them trying to win now is that they aren’t trading away any high-end prospects, so they are still in a great position for the future. The Pirates are now in a great position to try and win the National League Central division and, dare I say it? Maybe even the World Series.